How to Use USB Flash Drive on Android and iOS

Managing storage on your smartphone can be a hectic task, especially if it does not support micro SD card. And it seems like most flagship smartphone manufacturers these days, are following the Apple way of not using a micro SD on their iOS devices. But thankfully, you can use USB Flash Drive on Android and iOS to increase its storage. So, here is how it works.

Related: How to Access your Computer Files From Anywhere With TeamViewer

Why some Smartphones do not support Micro SD card?

All Google’s smartphone (both Nexus and Pixel) comes with a fixed storage, just like the Apple’s iPone. Even the flagship killer – One plus 2 and 3, does not support micro SD card. So, why is that?

Well, first of all, you can not compare the storage quality of SD card to the phone’s internal storage. Not all storage are created equal. The phone’s internal storage offers much better performance than an SD card. And second, people often buy a cheap SD card (class 4 or 6) to save money.

This affects the overall performance of devices. And then the same folks complain about their device is getting sluggish, but indeed it’s the fault of their cheap SD card. So, to maintain the company’s reputation, Flagship smartphones manufacturer like Apple, Google, etc. don’t support micro SD card in the first place.

Related: How to Setup Plex Media Server – Step by Step Guide

Use USB Flash Drive on Android Phone and Tablet

Almost every modern Android device are now compatible with the USB storage. All you have to do is just insert the USB and start exploring its content. But since there is no USB jack in your Android smartphone or tablet, you can not simply plug in your USB flash drive into it. And to fix this get a connector to connect your Android to USB storage. There is a there way to go about it.

And to fix this get a connector to connect your Android to USB storage. There are three ways to go about it.

1. Use a USB OTG cable. A regular OTG cable is cheap and works well for most of us. Simply connect your USB flash drive to one end of the cable and your Android smartphone to the other end. Next, open any File Explorer app (like ES File Explorer), go to local > and there you’ll see your USB flash drive. There you’ll have full read and write access i.e. you can play a video file, copy stuff from your phone to your flash drive and vice versa.

If you want to use an external HDD with your Android phone or tablet, then the regular OTG cable might not work for you. In such situations, instead of investing in a powered USB hub which are pretty expensive; you can buy the special OTG cable with the extra power outlet, where you can connect your Android micro USB charger to provided additional power require to spin the hard drive.

If your phone has a Type C connector (like the Nexus 5x or Oneplus 3), then you can buy a USB-C OTG Cable. They are slightly more expensive than regular micro USB OTG cable but works in the similar fashion.

2. Buy a USB flash drive that also has a micro USB slot at the other end. They are slightly more expensive (almost twice the cost) then the usual Flash drive. The good part with them is, you don’t have to worry about cables, but then this will only work for one Flash drive and not with others, like an OTG cable. So, if you want to watch movies while traveling, and then this is a good option.


3. Get a Wireless Hard drives. It does what the name says, i.e. when you press a button on this HDD, it creates a WiFi Hotspot, which you can join from your smartphone and tablet and then browse all the content of the drive using a File manager app. The good thing about the Wireless HDD is, it has a built-in battery, and you can connect multiple devices to it at the same time. While the downside is, they are pretty expensive, almost twice the cost for the same storage.

What to do if the USB flash drive is not detected?

First thing first, to find out if your device supports USB or not, simply run a Google search. If they don’t support USB OTG, there is nothing you can do about it. But if they do support OTG and it’s not working only for you. Then there are three things you can check.

1. Compatible File system

If you are smartphone is not able to detect your pen drive, then check the file system of your pen drive. Android only support FAT, FAT32 right out of the box. So, if your flash drive has NTFS, you need to format it (make sure to take the backup) and then re-insert it. This time it will work. Or you have a high-end smartphone; you can try USB plugin for Total Commander. I have written a detailed article on this here.

2. Nexus Media Player (Non-ROOT)

Some devices (like my old Nexus 7) do not detect an external Flash drive easily, but by using a special app like Nexus Media Player, you can get it working easily. The good part about the app is you don’t have to Root your phone, but you’ll have to pay for it.

3. StickMount (ROOT)

On some devices, you can get the USB support via OTG by just rooting it and using the right app to detect the USB partition. So, if you have a rooted Android or can ROOT your Android, then try the Stick Mount app.

Use USB Flash drive on iPhone and Ipad

Unlike Android, there is no easy way to use external USB flash drive on iPad and iPhone. You will need to Jailbreak your devices and install iFile from Cydia.

So, here is how it work, just like we use an OTG cable to connect a USB flash drive to Android; to do the same on your iPad and iPhone, you’ll have to buy Lightning to USB Camera Adapter ($30). Next, insert the lighting end to the iPad and connect the other end to the USB flash drive (should have FAT32 format). If you are using an external HDD, then you might have to use a USB powered hub to give it extra power. Once done, you will be able to find your USB flash drive inside the iFile app.

Unfortunately, since we don’t have a Jailbreak iPhone or iPad, we were not able to test it. But from what we gather from the online source, it worked pretty fine. But frankly, jailbreaking your iPad just to connect USB is not worth it in my opinion. So, I ended up streaming videos on my computer to my iPad over WiFi.

Related: 4 Ways to Put Movies on Your iPad/iPhone


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